Leaving a Child Alone in a Car in Florida

In Florida, it is a crime to leave a child in a car unattended or unsupervised for longer than 15 minutes or for any period of time that results in great bodily harm, permanent disability, or permanent disfigurement to a child.

However, it is not unlawful to leave a child alone in a car for less than 15 minutes, provided the car is not running and the health of the child is not in danger.

Definition of Leaving a Child Alone in a Car

Under Florida Statute 316.6135, the crime of Leaving a Child Alone in a Car or Car occurs when a caregiver leaves a child younger than six-years-old unattended or unsupervised in a car or motor vehicle for longer than 15 minutes.

A caregiver is defined as a parent, legal guardian, or other person responsible for a child younger.

Motor vehicle means a motorized vehicle that can be operated on the road, such as a truck, van, R.V., golf cart, ATV, or similar vehicles.

Aggravating Factors

Additionally, if a caregiver leaves a child unattended or unsupervised in a running car or motor vehicle for any period of time that results in great bodily harm, permanent disability, or permanent disfigurement to the child, the crime is enhanced from a First Degree Misdemeanor to a Third Degree Felony.

Penalties for Leaving a Child Alone in a Car

Leaving a Child Alone in a Car Longer than 15 minutes

Leaving a Child Alone in a Car Longer than 15 minutes without causing great bodily harm, permanent disability, or permanent disfigurement to the child is a First Degree Misdemeanor.

If convicted of Leaving a Child Alone in a Car Longer than 15 minutes, a judge can impose any combination of the following penalties:

  • Up to twelve (12) months in jail.
  • Up to twelve (12) months of probation.
  • Up to $1,000 in fines.

Leaving a Child Alone in a Car Causing Great Bodily Harm, Permanent Disability, or Permanent Disfigurement

Leaving a Child Alone in a Car for any period of time that results in great bodily harm, permanent disability, or permanent disfigurement is classified as a Third Degree Felony and assigned a Level 1 offense severity ranking under Florida's Criminal Punishment Code.

If convicted of Leaving a Child Alone in a Car Causing Great Bodily Harm, Permanent Disability, or Permanent Disfigurement, a judge can impose any combination of the following penalties:

  • Up to five (5) years in prison;
  • Up to five (5) years of probation; or
  • Up to $5,000 in fines.

Defenses to Leaving a Child Alone in a Car

In addition to the pretrial defenses and trial defenses that can be raised in any criminal case, a specific defense to the crime of Leaving a Child Alone in a Car is:

Less than 15 Minutes

Provided the child does not suffer from great bodily harm, permanent disability, or permanent disfigurement, it is a defense to the crime of Leaving a Child Alone in a Car that less than 15 minutes passed from when the child was first left in the car unattended.

Contact Criminal Defense Lawyer Richard Hornsby

If you have been arrested or charged with the crime of Leaving a Child Alone in a Car in Central Florida or the Greater Orlando area, contact Criminal Defense Lawyer today.

The initial consultation is free and I am always available to advise you on the proper course of action that can be taken.